A tried and true trope of sports media is that when it comes to the NFL, there really is no offseason. The regular season, post season, and Super Bowl all come and go, eventually giving way to a several month period which is every bit as crucial, and arguably just as entertaining.
Within this team building time frame we see coaches hired and fired as well as veteran free agents finding new homes to ply their trade. But perhaps the biggest and certainly most over arching element of the offseason is the draft, which typically signals a fever-pitch like end to all the madness before training camp finally opens.
This year promises to be pretty intriguing, as we have some stellar defensive prospects, as well as some polarizing options at quarterback, including one of which who was on track to be a minor league baseball player as recently as several weeks ago. The draft is always crazy, and in order to help process the craziness, we’ll be putting out several mock drafts over the course of the next few months starting here, just ahead of the annul scouting combine in Indianapolis.
As for guidelines, the only rule is there are no rules. Trades will be included as we see fit and all scenarios will be considered when making picks.
Hope you guys enjoy, and as always, sound off in the comments with your thoughts. Here goes:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
You don’t go out and hire a guy like Kliff Kingsbury if you’re not looking to make a big time splash. Make no mistake, that’s what the Cardinals are doing, and in the spirit of that we have them making the flashiest move possible: trading Josh Rosen to the Giants and making Murray their guy at number one overall.
Yes, they’ve stated publicly that Rosen is “their guy,” but that doesn’t mean he will be over the next few months when Kingsbury makes it clear he’d prefer to go with Murray. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has stated on his podcast that the interest is real and though it made the rounds in somewhat tongue-in-cheek type fashion, we’ve already heard it from the man himself:
Kliff Kingsbury back on October 28, 2018:— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 10, 2019
"Kyler is a freak.....I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could."
(via @EricKellyTV) pic.twitter.com/N9m99DkTNr
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
The 49ers would run to the podium in this scenario, likely not even considering any trade offers levied their way. Bosa is the best player in the draft, and with the unique situation of Murray choosing football making him available, San Francisco would do well to snatch him up no questions asked. Though they’ve already made tons of top end draft additions to their defensive front, this one would certainly complete it for the next few years at least.
3. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Jets would likely prefer a trade here having been somewhat cleaned out of draft capital after the Darnold trade last year. With the Giants no longer in need, and other potential partners perhaps a bit too far back, in this scenario they stay put and grab a blindside blocker for their franchise quarterback. This may be a bit of a reach with some of the defensive talent still on the board, but it’s all about helping out Darnold moving forward.
4. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The soon to be Vegas Raiders have gotten off to a rocky start under Jon Gruden, who came under heavy fire for his handling of the Khalil Mack situation. There’s no telling if Allen is another Mack (he likely isn’t) but the Raiders will have to hope he at least comes close.
Who knows though? As Gruden would say, it’s really tough to find good pass rushers.
5. TRADE: Washington Redskins (via TB): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Ever since the RG3 flameout, the Redskins have been in quarterback limbo, starting with refusal to commit to Kirk Cousins, and now having Alex Smith on the hook for a lot of money. The first problem with Smith is that he wasn’t playing particularly well last season, with the much larger issue being that he may never even be able to play again.
It’s a sordid state of affairs further complicated by an owner who’s not afraid to mettle in Daniel Snyder. If he were to ever be sold on one of these quarterbacks and thinks they could potentially sell hope to what is quickly becoming a fed-up fan base, don’t be surprised to see Bruce Allen maneuver his way into a position where he’s able to do so.
6. New York Giants: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The board has fallen nicely for the Giants, who already picked up a potential QB of the future in the Rosen trade. Now they land one of the best overall players in the draft in Williams and beef up the line of defense that needs much more of that type of presence.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
With Blake Bortles on his way out the door, and a veteran passer such as Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater likely on the way in, it’s entirely possible the Jags pass on a quarterback in the draft this year once again. With Murray and Haskins already gone, it’s especially likely, but Gary is a very nice consolation prize.
He doesn’t fill an immediate need for a team who have heavily invested in their d-line, but it was likely their greatest strength two seasons ago when they were on the doorstep of the Super Bowl. Strong fronts of both sides of the ball were the main characteristics of the Foles led Eagles team that actually took home the silver ware that year, so this could be a winning blueprint for the Jags who still have ample talent to make a run.
8. Detroit Lions: Devin White, LB, LSU
The Lions are yet another franchise floating in a vortex of mediocrity and could maybe benefit from a large scale overhaul. It probably won’t happen in Matt Patricia’s second season in charge though, and instead they take a versatile chess piece for his defense that could use some more athleticism at linebacker.
9. Buffalo Bills: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Depending on who you ask, Josh Allen was either a woefully overwhelmed bust or a promising rookie with rare physical skills. He’s probably somewhere in between that at this point, but regardless, he’s going to need some help around him after his supporting cast was one of the worst maybe ever assembled in 2018.
Hockenson provides that with great athleticism and a big 6’5 frame that Allen could hit with his eyes closed. The jury may still be out on their quarterback, but Buffalo would be set at tight end if they ultimately make this pick.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
How does John Elway solve a problem? By, A) threatening to go play baseball, or B) throwing all of his resources at it, to mixed results. He’s deservedly come under fire for his handling of the post Peyton Manning quarterback situation, but people are forgetting some of the big swings in free agency that he took and hit on that ultimately won them that Super Bowl in 2015.
Joe Flacco is a relatively big swing to take at this point but for a fourth rounder, an at-worst lateral move at quarterback on a non-gauranteed contract isn’t the scuttling of the position like some in the media are making it out to be. Especially if Elway jumps on a prospect like Lock (who he’s reportedly smitten with) at number 10 overall.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Another year, another season with Andy Dalton under center for Cincinnati on the horizon. At least, if we’re to believe that Zac Taylor is being brought in for a last ditch effort at getting the veteran back to his pre-injury 2015 form. They’ll have to continue to invest in him and some of the moves they’ve already made on the o-line plus this one is a good way of doing so.
12. Green Bay Packers: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The board falls nicely for the Packers who snag a guy that was once thought of as a top 3 type of pick at twelve overall. Oliver paired up with Mike Daniels is a scary thought for the rest of the NFC North.
13. Miami Dolphins: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
The Dolphins are moving on from Ryan Tannehill by all accounts, and look like a team primed to tank this season and try to get their hands on one of next year’s top passers. With the board falling this way, they set themselves up to do so nicely by grabbing a player for Brian Flores’s defense to build around.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
An already porous Falcons defense may lose Grady Jarrett in free agency, and will need to get back to having the same athleticism and powerful presence that helped propel them to the Super Bowl in 2016. The well rounded Wilkins is a not only a very talented player, but was also a great source of leadership for the National Champions. Dan Quinn needs to re-establish the culture he had built at one point and a player like Wilkins could help him get there.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via WAS): Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
The Bucs traded with the Skins in this scenario because they’d like to try and maximize Jameis Winston as much as they can in Bruce Arians’ inaugural effort. Ford can help do that by both improving pass protection as well as clearing running lanes for a player like Ronald Jones, a big investment at running back who they got nothing out of last season.
16. Carolina Panthers: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
If the Panthers are serious about getting Cam Newton’s career back on track, they’re going to need to get some more serious firepower around him. The explosive, freakishly built Metcalf would certainly add some needed punch into Carolina’s aerial attack and more than replace a player like Devin Funchess who may be out the door.
17. Cleveland Browns: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Browns are finally establishing a culture, and John Dorsey has a type: fiery guys from winning programs at the highest level of college football (Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, etc.). Ferrell fits this to a T and would add some serious juice to a pass rush that already has Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Kirk Cousins is off to a disappointing start in the Twin Cities, failing to make the playoffs in the first of a three year Super Bowl or bust stretch. Like it or not, the Vikings are tied to him after the three year fully guaranteed contract was signed last spring, and all they can do is continue to build around him. Little would be a good start along the line, as a few of their big uglies are set to hit free agency.
19. Tennessee Titans: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
The Titans are still waiting on a breakout from Marcus Mariota, and most people removed from the situation are questioning whether that’s ever even going to come. He’s been banged up pretty much ever year since entering the league so another investment along the line should help facilitate it happening. Risner is versatile having played multiple positions along the line in college, and would give the Titans more power to help run Derrick Henry more effectively.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Steelers look like they may be headed for a rebuild after missing out on the playoffs in inglorious fashion in 2018. A player of Williams’ caliber and personality could be a big help to a defense that could use some more bite. A possible Antonio Brown replacement could end up being a target here but with Metcalf gone, the value just isn’t quite there at this point.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Seahawks simply can’t continue a potential Hall of Fame quarterback’s career continue to go to waste. They made the playoffs somewhat surprisingly this season, no thanks to their bizarre draft moves last Spring, and will need to beef their roster up significantly if they have any hope of making a significant run this season. Fant would give them size and athleticism in between the numbers and maybe give Russell Wilson the help that Jimmy Graham was supposed to the last time they made a big move at tight end.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith are both impending free agents for Baltimore and while one or both may be brought back, the former is no Spring chicken. The reality is Baltimore could always use some more pass rushing help and the uber athletic Polite would give them that in spades. Make no mistake, Lamar Jackson is going to get some help at receiver, but with no top options available here, the value says to take a guy like Polite to bolster your identity as a run-first, defensive squad.
23. Houston Texans: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Texans haven’t had a go-to guy at running back since Arian Foster, which was a pretty long time ago all things considered. Jacobs would step in as the guy for them from day one, and relieve some pressure off of Deshaun Watson who’s had plenty on his plate since becoming the quarterback in Houston. The powerful runner packs a serious punch with the ball in his hands and also catches it well out the backfield.
24. Oakland Raiders (via CHI): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Raiders defense needs a serious overhaul, and they’re off to a good start by nabbing Josh Allen earlier in the round. Doubling back on a player like Baker would bring some speed and fluidity to their back end even if he does lack ideal size.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
The Eagles won the Super Bowl in the strength of the inexplicable Nick Foles postseason magic as well as the formidable nature of their defensive line. While they have a lot of bodies there now, they’re getting a bit older in the trenches and the massive/explosive Burns would give them a necessary shot in the arm.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
General manager Chris Ballard has done a fantastic job of turning this roster around in a relatively short amount of time, though they could still use some name brand talent on their defense, particularly in the back end. While there is a size concern with Murphy, he’s a polished player and would help shore things up on the back end for Matt Eberfluss.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Raiders have now made two first round additions to their defense and wrap things up by grabbing an offensive piece to support Derek Carr. This team needs a serious rebuild, but a haul like this may help them get off to a good start.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Chargers have one of the more complete rosters in the league, and Dillard would help bring a pass blocking presence that could help Phillip Rivers and co. get over the hump. Also look at them as potential trade candidates, or to even think about a QB of the future.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chiefs offense and defense were essentially polar opposites of one another. They’ll need more bodies up front and more speed and talent in the back end; they start by picking up Tillery to pair with Chris Jones.
30. Green Bay Packers (via NO): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Green Bay has had some pretty slim pickings at the receiver position over the past few seasons. Hollywood Brown would bring some necessary explosiveness to pair up with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Whether stalwart tackle Andrew Whitworth is back next year shouldn’t preclude the Rams from looking for a replacement now. Cajuste would be perfect here because he’s still a bit of a work in progress and could learn from Whitworth and Rob Havenstein.
32. New England Patriots: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Having just slipped on a sixth Super Bowl ring, there’s not much left for Tom Brady to accomplish at this point. Jones is a sharp kid with ideal size and fits the bill of a player who would do well by learning on the sideline for a year or two. There isn’t anyone you could learn better from at this point than Brady, making this future pick worth making at this point in time.